Family Histories

Family Histories for the Rose and Kirkpatrick Families

Monday, June 6, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday - Tybee Island, Georgia Memorial Cemetery

We recently spent a week at Tybee Island, near Savannah, Georgia.   In the center of the island's Memorial Park is a small cemetery containing 36 graves, many unmarked.  The property belonged to the Wortham family, who are buried here, with the last burial being in 1952.   The cemetery was restored by the city in 2005, and it is maintained by the island's beautification committee, with a wrought iron fence surrounding the graves that were once partially covered with sand.

Local legend once said that the cemetery was established for people who died and washed ashore in shipwrecks in the 1800's.  One grave in the cemetery lists the names, "C. M. Rotoreau, J. C. Rotoreau, C. Rotoreau, 1876, washed ashore." The local lore was that three brothers had drowned and washed ashore.  There is no evidence to back this story up, however, there is a Caroline Rotoreau living in Savannah, the widow of J. Rotoreau in the 1888-1889 Savannah City Directory.  Caroline Rotoreau died in St. Joseph's Infirmary in Savannah in 1890 and is buried on Tybee Island.  Her husband was likely to be John Charles Rotoreau, born 1807 in Charleston and died 1882 in Savannah.

Another marker in the cemetery is for H. Max C. Eggert.  His stone is in German, reading "Hier Ruhet in Gott, gebam 5teh Maerz 1862, gest am 1teh Maerz 1879, sunft ruhe, seine asche.  It roughly translates to "Here resteth in God, born 5th March 1862, died on 1st March 1879, gently quietly, his ashes."  Max Eggert would have been 17 years old at the time of his death and no other Eggerts are buried in the cemetery - perhaps he was a victim of drowning of the coast and was buried here on the island.

I would love to know why the Rotoreau family's marker says that they were washed ashore, when they clearly lived past 1876 and did not die of drowning.  Possibly the local citizens heard the legend and put the marker in believing it to be true.

If you ever visit this lovely island, the cemetery is behind the local library on Butler Avenue.

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